Modern dating culture is obsessed with the idea of “perfection” and finding the perfect match. Because of the new dating platforms, we’ve become more selective and dismissive in the things that we want and don’t want in a partner because we’ve got a ton more options at our fingertips. I suffer from a severe anxiety and panic disorder and it sucks, especially when it comes to dating. It’s much harder for someone with anxiety to develop a healthy and loving relationship for several reasons. It’s not just because of what I’m suffering through, but also because most people don’t want to deal with a mental flaw when they can easily move on to the next near perfect person with the swipe of a thumb or the click of a button. Here are the reasons dating and relationships are much harder for a person who suffers from anxiety.
- A first date is always terrifying. Getting ready for a first date for most people is fun and exciting. I have those excited moments, too, but they’re usually accompanied by nervous shaking and fear of the unknown. Uncertainty is the hardest part of the battle, so welcoming a new person into my life in a romantic way is pretty much the most terrifying thing ever. I would just once like to put my mascara on without poking myself in the eye from unsteady hands.
- It’s hard to leave my past relationships behind. No matter how much I try and trust the present, I fear it because of my past relationships that failed. Fear of the unknown causes you to play multiple possible scenarios in your head of what could happen in the future so you can try to control it by being prepared for it. Unfortunately, this means I’m always on guard and prepared for the worst possible outcome to protect myself from the anxiety that historically comes with it. It’s not him, it’s me — truly.
- I overanalyze absolutely everything. I tend to overanalyze every word and action of my partner’s. In the early stages of a relationship, panic and anxiety is rampant because I’m in a period of uncertainty. This stage is normal for everyone to get nervous about, but with anxiety, the nerves are multiplied by about 1000. I get that this is difficult and I know that people shy away from this side of me, but eventually when I’m comfortable and trusting, I begin to tame these thoughts.
- I bottle things up all the time. I often internalize issues that should otherwise be shared in a healthy manner. I do this because I fear the reactions and being labeled “crazy” or “oversensitive”. Unfortunately, if you leave a Pepsi bottle in the freezer sealed up for too long, it explodes. Allowing a person with anxiety to come to you by being open and understanding will help her to trust she can be open with her feelings and avoid future explosions.
- As usual, communication is key. Anxiety can go either way; some people close off completely and push others away when they’re experiencing the fear, doubt, worry and uncertainty (the main characteristics of anxiety), while some people become very open and communicative because it settles the worry and uncertainty faster. People suffering from anxiety disorders in relationships tend to feel like they need to be in control of their emotions at all times and this proves difficult when the person on the other end isn’t willing to compromise with our communication style.
- Sometimes anxiety talks. There’s no cure for anxiety; there are only ways to cope with it. Some take medications, some use psychotherapy and some use alternative outlets to treat their symptoms. While many things help tame anxiety, it can always rear its ugly head and sometimes cause me to say things in a panicked and anxious state of mind.
At the end of the day, the right person for me will be someone who can accept and handle my flaws. But with regards to mental health issues and the rising number of people battling these illnesses, I just hope that the negative stigma I get in a dating capacity starts to diminish. I’m just as loving and fun as those who don’t suffer and if I wasn’t written off so quickly as a red flag, guys would see there are plenty of other great parts about me to love.